The Indian men's hockey team is simulating Olympic atmosphere at its training base here to prepare for the Tokyo Games in the best possible manner, experienced forward Ramandeep Singh revealed on Wednesday.
Ramandeep said they are assessing their bodies and testing their skills by replicating their side's Olympic schedule in training as they are targeting a winning start to seize early momentum.
The Indian men's hockey team is scheduled to begin its campaign on July 24 against New Zealand. Reigning Olympic Champions Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Spain, and hosts Japan are the other teams in Pool A.
"A lot will depend on how we fair in the first match. A good result against New Zealand will set the right momentum for the rest of the tournament," Ramandeep was quoted as saying in a media release.
"We are currently replicating the Olympic Schedule, three teams with different combinations from within the Olympic core group have been formed and the coaching staff has created an atmosphere that is similar to what it would be like at the Olympics.
"We wear the Indian kit, we get ready as though we are facing a tough international opponent, we do team activation (pre-match drills) just like we would before an international game and we also line-up for the national anthem before the start of the match," explained Ramandeep, who was part of the Rio Olympics.
He further said there is a lot of excitement within the group as the team selection trials is underway.
"Of course, there is a lot of excitement within the group, and this exercise of replicating the Olympic schedule is also a good way to test our bodies with two back-to-back games and then a day's rest."
"We are paying attention to recovery when we have back-to-back matches and so on. Though we missed out on traveling for international matches due to the pandemic, I feel this exercise of playing internal matches is really bringing out the match-mentality to the fore," he said.
Speaking about his own performance, Ramandeep said his knee-injury in 2018 caused a setback to an otherwise good run.
"The 2016 and 2017 for me was really good. I was in good form and was doing really well but the knee injury during Champions Trophy in 2018 was a big setback.
"It took me about six-seven months to recover and just when I had begun playing, I had an ankle injury. But mid-2019 onwards I have been doing well and I believe I have returned to my old form," stated Ramandeep.
He was also part of the national team that played in Europe but unfortunately, he suffered a cut on his hand that forced him out of the tour after the first game against Germany which India won 6-1.
"I also ended up missing the Argentina Tour due to this minor injury, I was rested for about 15-20 days. But now I feel I am in good nick," he said.